Getting off to the Best Start for Breastfeeding

Getting off to the Best Start for Breastfeeding

This is a summary of a chapter from “The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers” by Jack Newman MD and Teresa Pitman.

AKA my breastfeeding bible.

I have read all 300+ pages religously, some sections even more than twice.

Of course I still had questions when Baby E came along, but at least I knew what to expect.

Baby E is 100% breastfed and has gained close to 100% of his birth weight in 2.5 months.

Perhaps I have an abundant of milk supply, but this book definitely left a positive impact on my breastfeeding journey and made it much easier.

Having a baby can be stressful in the first few weeks with all the feeding, crying and changing of nappies.

So equipt yourself with all the breastfeeding information that you can get before the arrival of your baby. Read more. Learn from other people’s experience.

I sincerely hope that it helps you as much as it helped me.

Knowledge is the key to having a good breastfeeding experience, especially for first time mothers.

Own your breastfeeding jorney.

Till next time! xoxo


A mother’s experience of breastfeeding can be profoundly affected by what happens during the first few hours after her baby’s birth.

A good beginning can help her find breastfeeding easy and painless; a bad beginning can make it painful and difficult.

Here are a few ways to get a good start breastfeeding:


1. If possible, have a natural childbirth

– Plan to give birth with as few interventions as possible

– Eg if labor is induced with Pitocin, fluids given by the IV may increase engorgement of the breast and result in the baby having more difficulty latching on.

– A poor latch will lead to poor feeding and a lethargic baby who is jaundiced because of poor intake of milk.

– If a mother has Demerol or other painkilling medication close to the time of baby’s birth, the baby will be sleepy and have trouble coordinating his sucking motions.


2. Baby is put to the breast immediately after delivery

– Babies usually experience a time of quiet alertness in the first hour or two after birth.

– They are awake but not crying and seem to be primed to learning to breastfeed.

– When the baby is first put to the breast, he will often simply lick or nuzzle the nipple which is fine.

– If the mother can have relaxed, unhurried time with the baby, he will soon indicate readiness to nurse – this might take 10 minutes, 15 minutes or an hour or more after birth.

– It is no use forcing a baby to take the breast when he doesn’t want to – forcing will only make him angry or upset.

– Most importantly, mother and baby stay together during this time with skin-to-skin contact.


3. The baby and the mother should room in together

– Rooming in should mean 24 hours a day, not only daylight hours.

– Mothers and babies who are together will get “in sync” as they sleep and wake at the same time.


4. Artificial nipples must not be given to the baby

– Babies sucking on a bottle and suckling at the breast are two very different processes.

– During the first few days after giving birth, mothers produce only a small amount of a special kind of milk called colostrum.

– Colostrum is high in antibodies and is a laxative helping to help prepare the baby’s intestines to handle the milk that the breasts will soon be producing.

– “Nipple preference” rather than “nipple confusion” happens – if babies go to the breast and don’t get much milk because they are not latched on well, and are then given a bottle and get a fast flow of milk, they will develop a preference for the bottle.

– The solution is to fix the latch so that baby is able to get milk just as readily from the breast.


5. There should be no restriction on length or frequency of feedings

– Unrestricted feedings encourage the mother to learn her baby’s cues.

– She will be watching her baby and learning how he indicates that he is getting hungry eg moving around restlessly, making sucking motions with his lips and tongue etc.

– Limiting and scheduling feedings can actually increase the risk of sore nipples. If the baby is ravenously hungry when coming to the breast, he may grab at the nipple and not be patient enough to wait until his mother gets him properly positioned. His frustration when the milk doesn’t flow quickly enough may make him pull at the breast, often coming off it and relatching poorly, causing more pain.

– Babies at the breast for hours most likely indicate they are not properly latched on and is not really getting much milk. However, there are also some “high need” babies who want to spend more time on the breast even if they are getting enough milk. It is important to watch the baby at the breast to figure out what is going on.


6. Supplements of water, sugar water and/or formula are rarely required.

– There are very few medical reasons for giving supplements to babies.

– If there is a true medical issue and the baby needs a supplement, it should be given by a lactation aid or supplemental nurser while the baby is at the breast.

– In most cases, the best way to provide extra milk for the baby is to get the baby well latched on.


7. Proper positioning and latching on are crucial to success

– “Latching on” refers to the way the baby takes the breast into his mouth.

– A good latch means pain-free breastfeeding, and it also means that the baby will get the milk he needs.

– If you are feeling real pain when the baby is breastfeeding, the baby is probably not latched on well no matter what the nurse or other people tell you.

– The greater the mother’s supply, the less the baby needs to latch on well, but the mother may pay a price. Eg, sore nipples are almost always due to a poor latch.

Good latch Abundant Milk Supply -> Good weight gain Pain-free nursing “Short” feedings Feedings that are not that frequent
Adequate latch Abundant Milk Supply -> Good weight gain Pain-free nursing Longer feedings More frequent feedings
Poor latch Abundant Milk Supply -> Slower weight gain And/or sore nipples
Good latch Average Milk Supply -> Good weight gain Pain-free nursing “Short” feedings Feedings that are not that frequent
Bad latch Average Milk Supply -> Slow weight gain Sore nipples Long feedings Frequent feedings



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